It’s been an amazing year, and the MYPath Trail System couldn’t have done it without the support of this community. Whether you have been an active volunteer, attended one of our events, took your pet or family on a hike along the newly formed trail, or just shared our passion silently—we thank you! There are many achievements to celebrate as 2016 comes to a close.
Notably, MYPath was granted $49,500 within the first few weeks of the new year from the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) and the Indiana Office of Tourism Development which allowed for the development of a primary Trailhead at Cooper Commons, on the corner of Main Street and Cooper Street. Construction began in late November and is currently underway by contractors Mitchell and Stark from Medora, Indiana. The new space will include a shelter with scenic views of the White River and new amenities such as bike loops, drinking fountain, and upgraded lighting, and a reconfigured parking area.
The spring of 2016 was filled with work days on the Riverfront Trail, some blessed with warmth and sunshine and others cold and rainy; however, fun nonetheless. Volunteers of all ages helped pick up trash, clear trail, manage invasive species, and spread woodchips. A flood damaged house located at the entrance to the Riverfront Trail was razed to make way for future improvements. In June, the Phase I Riverfront Trail officially opened to the public with a ceremony including a ribbon cutting and guided hikes.
Meetings with local safety authorities were held in the late summer to ensure public safety on the Riverfront Trail. Cris Lunsford from the Owen County EMS, Jack White from the Emergency Management Department, and Jerry Sears from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security put the Riverfront Trail to the test with the M.E.R.V. to ensure the emergency vehicle could maneuver the entirety of the trail. The Owen County Sheriff’s Department provided MYPath with two signs to be put along the trail with their logo and contact information. Dedicated volunteers continued trail maintenance work and mowing throughout the year.
Changes to MYPath leadership early in 2016 brought new faces to the MYPath team. Andrea Oeding, who started as the Owen County Soil and Water Conservation District’s (SWCD) Executive Director late in 2015, took over MYPath project management and Colleen Minnemeyer was hired as the Project Coordinator to assist with fundraising, marketing, and volunteer coordination. Both Oeding and Minnemeyer consult with the MYPath Advisory Board, which consists of core members representing the three partner organizations: Mark Rogers from the Owen County Community Foundation, Darrell White from the YMCA, and Paul Cummings from the Owen County SWCD.
The MYPath Trail System keeps moving forward, one step at a time, and 2017 will surely bring new and exciting developments. The Trailhead at Cooper Commons will be complete along with improvements along the Veterans’ Memorial Bridge. Stay tuned for information on a grand opening celebration in the spring. Fundraising efforts will continue as well as planning for the next phase of MYPath. We are committed to providing more safe recreational opportunities and building a community of trail advocates to protect and promote the beauty of Sweet Owen County.
When complete, the MYPath Trail System will be a system of upgraded sidewalks and multi-use trails in and around Spencer that connects McCormick’s Creek State Park on the east side of Spencer to the YMCA on the west. It is intended to increase the recreational opportunities and safety of major walking routes for the residents of Spencer and visitors to Owen County. Included in the grand vision of MYPath are specific goals including:
-to create a safe walking/crossing route across HWY 46 for students to access Owen Valley Middle and High School complex from downtown Spencer
-protect the sensitive habitat of the White River’s riparian zone with the restoration of the area along the Riverfront Trail
-improve the condition of the sidewalks along Main Street and Hillside Avenue
-connect to one of Owen County’s greatest recreational assets, McCormick’s Creek State Park, therefore increasing tourism and recreation in the county
MYPath is entirely funded by grants and individual donors. To date, MYPath has been granted $335,412. This total is almost entirely composed of written applications for specific projects and generously provided by the Owen County Community Foundation, Smithville Charitable Foundation, Boston Scientific Foundation, Duke Energy Foundation, Boston Scientific Employees, the Indiana Bicentennial Nature Trust, the Town of Spencer and Sweet Owen Convention & Visitors Bureau. Please consider making a financial contribution to help fund more great work in 2017 by contacting the Owen County Community Foundation at 812-829-1725.
The outpouring of support from local residents, community groups, and businesses during the course of the year was remarkable. Through individual and group work days, volunteers in 2016 put in a total of 283.75 hours either on the trail, in the office, or at special events. That comes to $6,546 in-kind value added by volunteers (based on national dollar value estimates of $23.07/hour). We’re tremendously grateful to the many individual volunteers and volunteer groups—including the Spencer Exchange Club, Owen Valley Air Force Junior ROTC, The Connection, Owen Valley Christian Fellowship, Boston Scientific Co-ops, and the Owen County Garden Club. If you would like to volunteer or learn how you can get involved with MYPath, contact Colleen at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to owencountyswcd.org/mypath-newsletter to sign up for MYPath email updates.
Did you know?
The name MYPath came from the ‘M’ in McCormick’s Creek and the ‘Y’ in YMCA.